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AUSTRALIAN MILITARY

LEGISLATION.,

As it IB proposed under the Defence Bul, which was yesterday placed before the Federal Legis- lature, to assimilate the military law oí tho various States, it may not bo uninteresting to review briefly tho position m which that law stands at

tho present time

In New South Wales tho military are divided into regular (or as popularly termed "permu iiont "), partially-paid, and volunteer Tho regular forces carrie into existence lu 1871, under the Naval and Military Fore es Act By chut statute tho naval aud military forces if this State are made subject to tho Mut j ey Act, Articles of War, and other euactmonts for the government of tho Imperial urmj The Mutiny Act and Articles of War were susperscded m 1879 by the Army Disciplino Act, uftorwards tho Army Aot and Regulations, but there has been a de

oiaion by the Now South Wales Supremo Court that this legalisation must bo held to bo com- prised within the «cope of our local statute Under this also tho Got ernor is orrpovv cred to aSBcrablo courts-murtiul and confirm ordiballowtho findings or sentences thereof und o urtu of m qiury, eto , may bo hold unelor the regulations which govern Bitch lu the Impend Service It is plain, therefore, that the regular milit irj forcea of this State uro in oxuctly the Hame position us regards law, discipline, and interior economy as tho Imperial army The original framers of tho Act (m which no doubt the saga- cious Sir James Martin took a Iar=e Bhuro) proba- bly considered that it was much better in estab- lishing a regular military service to adopt the Im penal regulations in their integrity rather thati attempt to create original legislation of a crude nature on so difficult a subject By taking the former course, also, they not only introduced a system wlnoh hud stood the test of tiges, but they gave" the New South Wales military tho bcneSt of the King's regulation» and all the Imperial text boola* and precedents bearing upon military law and discipline

e Ine paraauy-paia loroea nave no omer auieueu

to guide t&om than the Volunteer Act of ¿867, tho purport of which, however, has beou BO amended by regulations that it is no exaggeration to Bay that only a shadow of tho origami enact- ment now remains. It is, indeed, questionable whether many of thean, if tested out yyould not prove to bo ultra virn uiidor section 50, which provides that regulations may be mado by the Executive Council, " provided that they are not inconsistent " with the Act TJudtr t hese pro-

visions the partially-paid forces receive a Bunill payment proportionate to ruak, and conditional uponeffioienovus defined by orders nunuallyiBsucd under the uuthonty of the Lxecuttvo Council

Tho members of tho force are also liuhle to fiues for misconduct and to summary dismissal Tho flaw in the system is that thtro IB no mean» of preventing a man evading bemcc bj resignation , us any volunteer under the statute maj lit auy time quit his corf s by giving 14 duys' notice und returning all urms equipmeut, ¿Le lio ia also liable in that case to pay any money due by him to the corps

What aro Known us purely volunteer companies ore those which now solely represent the condition of volunteering when the Act wus passed That is to say the members give their services gratuitously, but receive an annual capitation allow unce for efbcionny, which is applied towards uniforms They aro BJBO provided with arms, accoutrements,

and military instruction

The Victoruiu system consists like our own of permanent, partially-paid, and volunteers They are, however, organised under what is known as the Discipline Ait paeeed origmallj in 1881 The men of the permanent forces (chiefly Royal Aus- tralian Artillery) arc enlisted for five years con- tinuous service with the option of re-enlisting for another term under improved conditions They are not subject to military law in tim sumo Ben^c that the Now South AVules regulars are Thero ure certain punishments to VA Inch the mon arc liable, and under cireunistavtices icturtof a military nature may be held Asa rule, how ev cr, it soldier who gives trouble is summunly dismissed so that the incentive to ¡food conduct is the proba- bility of dismissal in ease of tranBgrcbsiou , but of course this opens mi easy ro id to a ra m vvho desires his dischurge without cpcnsi Military economy us understood ui the Royal Australian Artillery of New South Wales does not exist

everything is governed by local regulation, with tho result that the traming from u soldierly pomt of view. hiiB been distinctly inferior

The partially-paid nun aie styled mibtm, nnd aro enrolled for a fixed period of sen ice, during wluoh timo the militia mun may bo dealt with for ¿misconduct, and cannot luivu the service except upon payment of compenButitn, equivalent to buying Ins discharge, the amount vaiyiug accord uig to the term of service TJpou tho iv bolo this brunch may be said to be upon a more satisfactory busts than our own partially paul men, because (ue has already been seen) the latter hay e not been enlisted under a suttably-drayv u Act, but under one which is practically obsolete through the medium of regulatioiM i hanging its wholo original tenor and scope The Victorian volunteer service is upou a system similar to that of Now South

i Wales

In Queensland the forces consist of the Royal

j Australian Artillery, tho ' Defence Fe ices," nid

the volunteers Tho permanent and pirtially paid ¡ forces aro (us in Victoria) enrolled tiudei local legislation, known us tho " Defence Acts," passed in tho years 1881 and 188G , und nil the mule I popul itiou bet« ecu the ages of l8 and 60, in c use

, of a national emergency, ure, with certain cxicp I tions, hable to conscription, tho number icqmred

to bo raiBed being obtained by ballot from tho

I total liable The Permanent Vrtillery are main

turned under tho provisions of the Defence Act, bomcivbut as in Victoria, with suitable Orders under which it is provided that tho " King's Regulations shall be ueceptcd as tho guide to military procedure Under certain circumst mccs also courts may bo nsaimblcd It is, m fact, AH attempt to adopt tho Imperial system, but without following it in its lulcgnty Tho " Defence Torees " aro partially paid, upon exactly the system that prevails in Now South Wales The volunteers are also upon tho same b isis as thosi in tins State There is a provision that all branches of the service ire to he subject to tho Army Act when in ninfoim, but how this is to be enforced does not appear

In South Australia th»ro isa "Xixcd Defence " and a ' Titld Force," the former consisting of a small diviBiou of regular urtdlery, embodied under local enactment, and tho luttT of unpaid volunteers In Western Australia and Tasman! i the forces are similarly composed, tho regular branches being very small

Upon the whole the »j stem of partiul piymont has worked very well, provided such payment bo not unreasonably small When it has been reduced (as it was ni this Stato ibout ten years ago) the force has suffered soy ciely, bec itiso the inducement to a desirable class of men to join und remain in the service having become mimili clent, the various regiments lost then good person n<"l and were recruited usually from mere lads of inadequate physique and stamina, and evon these did nut remain long Thus the companies were in a perpetual transition stute to the great snonfice of efficiency AVhcu the pay is reasonably, good it is found that an excellent class of recruits can bo obtuin"d, md that they will mauifest no disinclination to con- tinuo their service or to submit to fmrlj stringent discipline-u not unfroiuent sourco of weakness with volunteers Tho system of partial payment also admits of sumrnury punishment for minor irregularities, in tno shape of hues to he de

ducted from the oftendor s pay It also offers a premium to effie lency

The position in which the military forces of Australia now stund us regards legislation is this

-Tho wholo army has, by the Constitution Act, been brought under the control of tho Icderal Government, and removed from that of tho State Governments The Tederal Government how over, has no statuto which enables it to adminis

ter this largo and important department, compris- ing within itself so many subdivisions On the other hand, the various military statutes of tho different Stutts have never been repealed, and ure therefore still valid except so far is relates to the control being vested in the ledi ral Govern

ment Thus the militnrv of each Stato have so far boen compelled to continue in tho sanio groove as before, with regard to administration r and at the same time all legal procedure is mvolvod m a degree of uncertainty as regards its validity It IB not possible to effect so much as tho transfer of nn officer from ono State to another without MI order of tho Executive Council

Tho task before tho ledi ral Government is to fuse the various syetetna into ono hirmomous wholo, suitable to the conditions of service in AiiBtrahu, and calculated to pioduco tho highcbt possible efficiency The nuhtia sj stem of Grout Britain, resting mainly upm 28 dajs' annual con- tinuous traimng, c innot be adopted m Australia for many obviousroaboiis which it is unnecessary to dwell upon It is undeniable, however, tlmt a good militia must be the backbone of the Commas?

wealth military system, in which the " perma- nent " forco will always bo small, little moro

inrlnorl than a rnieloiin nf trained cxnerts.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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